Why Sake Should Be Every Parent’s Go-To Drink

by Kelsey Erin Shipman May 02, 2024

Why Sake Should Be Every Parent’s Go-To Drink

Despite the recent takedown of “Wine Mom Culture,” there are ways for parents to enjoy a hard earned drink at the end of the day. For centuries, the Japanese have been pouring a glass of sake a few times a week to relax, to connect with loved ones, and as an offering at Shinto shrines. After a long day balancing work and family, wise parents choose a drink that is both enjoyable and won’t leave them with a pounding headache the next morning. Sake offers minimal hangover symptoms, endless pairing opportunities, and creative uses for an unfinished bottle. It is also one of humanity’s great culinary arts with over 2,000 years of history. With domestic consumption steadily dropping since the 1970s, foreign markets help the sake industry stay alive.

Sake doesn’t have to be a curated experience exclusive to expensive sushi restaurants on the rare nights when a babysitter, bedtime, and bandwidth magically align. With a little practice and sense of adventure, you can enjoy a satisfying sake spread at your kitchen table. Here are five reasons why sake is the ideal weeknight drink for parents.

No Hangover

Because sake has significantly less acid than wine, and very low histamines, it tends to cause far less hangover symptoms than other alcoholic beverages. It allows you to get up early with your kids and race to get them ready for school without that dull, bleary-eyed feeling after too many glasses of wine. Sake also contains virtually no congeners - the nasty little byproducts of fermentation in alcoholic beverages - which may trigger the body’s inflammatory response and release of stress hormones.

Like anything, there are degrees of quality in sake. Overindulging in low quality sake (made with less than ideal ingredients) can make you feel poorly the next morning. Stick with premium, artisan sake imported directly from Japan where standards for ingredients are exceptionally high. And, it never hurts to chug a few glasses of water before bed. You can tell you’ve chosen a good sake when you hardly feel the after-effects the next morning.

No Rules

In Japan, it is tradition that you never pour your own glass of sake. This ensures that you will always have friends nearby to share a drink. But for the touched-out mom or burnt-out dad, a glass alone after the kids go to bed may be just the thing to recover from a harrowing day. Following tradition, the guest of honor always receives the first drink. That’s you mom and dad, so drink up!

One of the beauties of sake is that you don’t need a sommelier to curate your experience. Most premium sakes stay good in the fridge for up to a month after opening, so don’t be afraid to open a few bottles at once. Pour yourself multiple glasses and taste each one with a bit of dinner. This will give you a chance to focus on your senses and let go of the stresses of the day. What do you taste? What do you smell? Let yourself get lost in the different flavors and choose the one that you are most drawn to in the moment. You can’t go wrong when you trust your palette. Lead with intuition, like your toddler pairing sardines and applesauce or pretzels and ketchup. To each their own!

No Waste

Well-made sakes can actually taste better over time as the sake is exposed to air with repeated openings. Unlike that bottle of wine that turns to vinegar in a few days, you can trust that every bottle of sake will eventually get drunk - even if it takes a few weeks. Given that premium bottles of sake can cost $30 to $100 (or more), it’s a relief to know that there’s no pressure to finish a bottle in a single night. Your investment in a little fermented relaxation will pay off even if your mother-in-law drops by unexpectedly or you have a last minute work call to make before bed.

If a bottle of sake does start to taste a little funky, don’t throw it out. You can marinate tomorrow night’s dinner in it. Salmon, salt, and sake make a great umami-rich trio. Still have some left over? Pour the rest into a warm bath and let the naturally-occuring amino acids improve the tone and texture of your skin. Mix a little bit in a palmful of lotion and use it topically. Watch those post-baby wrinkles disappear!

No Guilt

As a parent, you may feel squeamish handing your money over to some of the largest alcohol companies in the US whose commercials inevitably objectify women and glorify binge-drinking. Or, maybe you miss those wild pre-baby nights. Either way, sake offers a way to drink responsibly without worrying what other questionable cultural phenomenons your money may be supporting.

Though sake brewing is a highly respected art in Japan, consumption in Japan has been declining for decades. The expanding interest in foreign markets, however, has reinvigorated the dying industry and motivated Japanese brewers to experiment with new styles. A paltry 3% or less of Japan’s licensed sake breweries are run by women, so with the purchase of one of their bottles, you are supporting a dying industry as well as some of the most pioneering female brew masters in Japan.

The next time you are feeling tense from a day of poop explosions and airborne sippy cups, open a few bottles of imported sake. Need to feel grounded? Take out a small, earthenware vessel and hold it in your hands for a minute or two. Let your body heat naturally warm the unfired ceramic. Pour a sake with rustic notes of oak and cinnamon. The heat from your hands will keep every sip warm. Looking to feel fancy while sporting spit up stains? Take out a big, fat wine glass and pour a sake with notes of nectarine and lemongrass. Swirl and sniff. Swirl and sniff. Your body will thank you the next day.

Kelsey Erin Shipman


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